I haven’t been a consistent fan of Alejandro Escovedo’s work, but I’ve definitely had my moments over the past few years. He’s been playing music for about as long as I’ve been listening to it, so it makes sense that I’ve run across his songs from time to time. From the early new wave of the Nuns, to the little later wave of Rank and File, and on to his solo work. I think it was his little late '90s collaborations with Whiskeytown that first got me to start appreciating Escovedo’s voice and style, and then when I heard him covering the Gun Club on “Bourbonitus Blues” I was officially a fan. Not a great rabid frothing at the mouth fan, but a fan that would listen to his songs, appreciate his lyrics, and be interested to hear what he was going to do next.
Now, it’s been ten years since that album hit, and while his cover of “Sex Beat” is still one I keep coming back and listening to, the rest of the album didn’t seem to hold up quite as well. Now here I am, listening to Real Animal and I’m getting some of my faith back. There’s that old bar band rock ‘n’ roll going on, for sure, but there’s so much more than that within the songs. There’s a sense of poetry, and I don’t mean that sappy heart on your sleeve kind of poetry, I mean like dirt road whiskey bottle punk junkie scarred poetry. There is definitely sensitivity, but it’s one that comes from living, and not just dreaming.
This album moves on different levels, and what you get from it is definitely dependent upon how you listen to it. You could dismiss it as a straightforward rock album, you could go deeper and get some of the alt.country flourishes, you could listen as the distortion hits hard in just the perfect place during a mellow ballad, and know that there’s some definite punk rock thought going on here. Some beatnik classical glam. Some good ol’ blues that gets hit with a southern switch. Some highway dust roots rock that slides with a dharma bum bite, and it seems that Alejandro Escovedo is still doing what he does best, and I’m still here – listening.
Listening to the beauty of “Golden Bear” as it moves with a strange Chris Isaak meets Roxy Music heartbeat. To the gritty rager that is “Real as an Animal” as it hits with a south of the border Rolling Stone strut. The sounds tied to the cities in “Chelsea Hotel ‘78” – making me think of Jim Carroll, and “Hollywood Hills” that’s as sad as a Tom Petty teardrop. It’s all here, moving up and down and straight through the vocals and guitars, and ending on a mournful note… “Slow down, it’s too fast / want to live in this moment / but I’m tangled in the past.” The song ends, the album is over, and the echoes reverberate against the push of your pulse.
Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
Alejandro Escovedo - Street Songs of Love
More by this writer:
Supersuckers - Get It Together!
Graves - Easy Not Easy
Sister Vanilla - Little Pop Rock
The Poems - Young America